NJC Meets Thursday, May Recommend Salami's Dismissal From Service
* Refuses service of Salami’s court papers
* FJSC To Nominate Justice Dahiru Musdapher As New CJN
ABUJA, August 15, (THEWILL) – The National Judicial Council (NJC) is set to meet on Thursday in Abuja to debate sanctions for the President of the Court Of Appeal, Justice Ayo Isa Salami, following his refusal to obey its directive to tender apologies to the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Aloysius Katsina-Alu and the Council over the false accusations he made against CJN.
A source familiar with the development told THEWILL Monday that the NJC would most likely push for Justice Salami’s dismissal from service as his refusal to obey the council’s directive is an affront to the Council.
As predicted by pundits, the standoff in the judiciary continued today with the NJC’s refusal to be served court papers filed by Justice Salami, who last week filed a suit challenging the NJC’s directive to him to tender apologies and also indicted him for lying.
However, a registrar in the Chambers of Justice Dahiru Musdapher received the service of the court papers on his behalf, while a clerk in the office of the CJN received the papers on behalf of the Katsina-Alu, THEWILL can authoritatively report.
Both top officials of the judiciary alongside the following were listed as Defendants in the suit filed by the embattled Justice Salami -- the National judicial Council; Hon. Justice Dahiru Musdapher; Hon. Justice Aloysius Katsina-Alu; Hon. Justice Umaru Abdullahi; Hon. Justice Emmanuel Ayoola; Hon. Justice Dominic Edozie; Hon. Justice Michael Akpiroroh; Mrs. Rakia Sarki Ibrahim; Hon. Justice Ibrahim Ndahi Auta; Hon. Justice Kate Abiri; and Hon. Justice Peter Umeadi.
Justice Salami in the suit filed on his behalf by Chief Akin Olujinmi (SAN), Rickey Tarfa (SAN) and Chief Adeniyi Akintola (SAN) is seeking an order from the Federal High Court Abuja to set aside the investigation and findings of the probe panel set by the NJC, which had retired Justice Umaru Abdullahi as head and the recommendation of the panel headed by Justice Ibrahim Auta.
Salami prayed the court to declare that the setting up of the NJC Investigation Committee and its composition were in gross violation of the principles of natural justice, saying his constitutionally guaranteed right to fair hearing under Section 36 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) was breached. He is also seeking “a perpetual injunction restraining the NJC from taking any or further action, reaching any conclusions or issuing any directive(s) in any form whatsoever in respect of the various petitions written against the Plaintiff in respect of which the 4th Defendant’s (Abdullahi) Panel was set up by the 1st and 2nd Defendants.”
Salami is also seeking the following declarations:
“A declaration that the NJC Investigation Committee chaired by Abdullahi lacked the competence to investigate the petitions against the Plaintiff having regard to its composition.
“A declaration that the proceedings of the NJC Investigation Committee were conducted in substantial breach of the principles of natural justice and fair hearing as guaranteed under Section 36 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999(as amended) and the proceedings are therefore unconstitutional, null and void.
“A declaration that the findings of the NJC Investigation Committee chaired by Abdullahi as contained in the ‘Investigative Panel Report’ dated 6th July 2011 submitted to the NJC and addressed to Musdapher are perverse, unreasonable, and violates the fundamental rights of the Plaintiff to fair hearing, guaranteed under Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and the African Charter on Human and Peoples Right.
“A declaration that the NJC Investigation Committee and the three-man panel set up by the NJC and chaired by the 9th Defendant (Auta panel) being administrative bodies, have no power to pronounce on the veracity of facts or statements contained in the statements on oath sworn to before the court of law or pronounce facts contained in statements on oath to be false as such power is exercisable only by a competent court of law.
“A declaration that NJC was improperly constituted on the 9th of August 2011 when it sat and received the report of the three-man panel chaired by Auta and that as such all actions, steps and decisions reached on the said date are illegal, null and void.
“A declaration that Katsina-Alu has no power under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) to issue as administrative directive halting or purporting to halt the delivery of judgement by panel of the Court of Appeal in a Governorship Election Petition and that any exercise of such power by the 3rd Defendant is ultra vires and in breach of the combined effect inter alia of Sections 6, 232, 2333,234, and 246 of the said Constitution.
“An order setting aside the proceedings and findings of the NJC Investigation Committee contained in its report dated 6th day of July, 2011.
“An order setting the recommendations of the three-man panel set up by the 1st Defendant and chaired by the 9th Defendant and all actions, decisions, proceedings and administrative directives arising from or based on such recommendations.
“An order setting aside all the steps or actions taken by the 1st-11th Defendants based on connected with or relating to the NJC Investigation Committee and the three-man (Auta) Panel.
“An order restraining the Defendants from acting on, relying on, recommending or taking or further taking any action or decision whatsoever in respect of the findings of Abdullahi and the Auta Panels.
“An order setting aside the warning letter dated 9th August, 2011 Ref. No: NJC/f.2/CA1/1/273 written by the 1st Defendant to the Plaintiff.
“A perpetual injunction restraining the NJC from taking any or further action, reaching any conclusions or issuing any directive(s) in any form whatsoever in respect of the various petitions written against the Plaintiff in respect of which the 4th Defendant’s (Abdullahi) Panel was set up by the 1st and 2nd Defendants.
“A perpetual injunction restraining the defendants from taking any or further action, reaching any conclusions or issuing any directive(s) in any form whatsoever in respect of the findings and recommendations of the NJC Investigation Committee chaired by the 4th Defendant and the three-man (Auta) Panel.
In the supporting affidavit attached, Salami deposed as follows:
“On the 8th day of February 2010, 3rd Defendant (Katsina-Alu) invited me to his chambers at the Supreme Court complex in Abuja and in the presence of the 2nd Defendant (Mudapher) requested me to direct the panel to dismiss the Sokoto appeal.
“I informed the 3rd Defendant that he could not direct the panel to dismiss the appeal or how to decide the case before them, since the justices of the Court of Appeal and indeed all justices in Nigeria had taken oath of office to administer justice without fear or favour, affection or ill will, and I subsequently left the office of the 3rd Defendant.
“On 15th February, 2010, 3rd Defendant again invited me to his chambers wherein he directed me to disband the panel set out to hear the appeal, a request which I refused.
“As at the time the 3rd Defendant invited me to his chambers on the 8th day of February, 2010 no petition had yet been written and received by the 3rd Defendant, just as none was shown to me….
“That the 4th Defendant (Abdullahi) as the then PCA had failed, refused or neglected to constitute a panel of the court to hear the appeal for over 18 months despite letters and protests to that effect by the Appellants in the said appeal and members of the Bar.”
Meanwhile, in a related develoment, the Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC) will hold a meeting on Tuesday, August 16, 2011, where is it expected to nominate Justice Dahiru Musdapher as successor to the retiring CJN, Justice Katsina-Alu, a senior judiciary source told THEWILL Monday.